Crews begin removing petroleum from sunken 1940s tug

(SAN FRANCISCO) — Contractors under the direction of a unified command will begin petroleum removal efforts on the tugboat Mazapeta today.

Mazapeta, a 1940s-era military tugboat, sank Sept. 4, 2023, in Little Potato Slough in the San Joaquin Delta northwest of Stockton, Calif. Approximately 1,600 gallons of diesel and engine oil were reported on board at the time of the incident.

To date, approximately 593 gallons of petroleum product have been recovered from inside the containment boom area, which surrounds the sunken tug. Rubberized boom was also deployed to improve containment and recovery efforts.

The unified command consists of representatives from the U.S. Coast Guard, California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response, and the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office.

USS Mazapeta, a Woban-class Navy tug, entered service in 1943. photo

In consultation with the Coast Guard’s salvage engineering response team and industry experts, the unified command approved plans to begin petroleum removal pending specialized equipment availability and favorable weather conditions. Crews will work to seal, right, dewater and remove any petroleum products from the vessel.

Dewatering operations may occur at night to coincide with appropriate tidal windows. The plan also includes contingencies in the event primary efforts are unsuccessful.

Empire Tract Road will be closed at Eight Mile Road and a water safety zone will be enforced within the operational area that will attempt to accommodate recreational vessel transit, but vessels are encouraged to avoid the area if possible. The unified command is also coordinating meetings with local and state agencies to discuss opportunities for vessel salvage after the pollution threat has been removed.

For more on the history of Mazapeta, click here.

– U.S. Coast Guard

By Professional Mariner Staff